tv Key Capitol Hill Hearings CSPAN November 19, 2013 11:00am-1:01pm EST
course of the past year. and of course, i'd like to thank all of the women of the senate, you have heard from many of them this morning and we will hear from more because this is an incredible year, a year that i hope will be remembered as a decisive one in the effort to eradicate military sexual assault once and for all. we are all too well aware that sexual assault continues to plague our armed forces. we have all seen the horrifying numbers. in 2012, the department of defense received 3,374 reports of sexual assaults in the military. but by the d.o.d.'s own estimates, 26,000 -- 26 26,000inessents -- of sexual assault actually took place during that per. that means that only 29%, a small fraction of all incidences, were actually reported. and even of the 3,374 reported
offenses in 2012, only 880 faced command action for sex crimes. of those 880, 594 faced court-martial and 302 of those court-martials resulted in convictions. so all in all, we have a situation in which 880 people faced any kind of discipline for a sex crime out of the universe of 26,000 potential incidents. that's only 3.4% of total incidents in which someone was held accountable and only 302, or 1.1%, were actually convicted of a crime. that is not a good set of numbers, mr. president, and it sums up why this problem has been fest experg why we need action this year. but i think we also know that we're not all here because of the statistics. we're here because of real people. because each and every one of the numbers is a personal story of grief and we know them all too well. whether it was a sexual assault scandal last year at lackland
air force base in texas where a dozen or more basic training instructors were accused of sexually assaulting female trainees, or the more reason case at the air base in italy where an air force general decided to reinstate a pilot without explanation, despite the fact that this pilot had been convicted of sexual assault charges in a court-martial by a jury of his peers. i think of kimberly wellnick from mora, minnesota, someone maybe not everyone has heard of. she served with the marines in iraq. in 2005, she was handcuffed to a bed and assaulted by a fellow marine, her supervisor. she reported him. the end result? he was demoted in rank. it's clear that we have so much more to do in addressing this pervasive problem. it doesn't just hurt our men and women in uniform. it undermines the integrity of our armed forces, the integrity of our country, and that's why
we can't let it continue. i know that everyone in the senate, and none more than the women in the senate, want action to change this intolerable situation. and action is what we are going to get. this year's defense authorization act contains more than two dozen unprecedented reforms that will increase reporting of these crimes, provide support to victims, and help rebuild trust in the military's handling of sexual assaults. as a former prosecutor who ran an office of 400 people, i learned over time that the outcomes are incredibly important. but just as important is how people feel about how they are treated in the system. every year we did a survey of our victims of domestic abuse and of sexual assault, and one of the things that became clear over time, that just as important was how many months someone got in prison was whether or not the crime was explained to them, whether or not the process was explained to the victims, and whether or not the outcome was explained.
we actually had people come back and say, i know that this case had to be dropped, or i know you couldn't bring charges in this case, but i felt -- this is a victim talking -- i felt that you treated me with respect and i understood that my case would still remain so that if another case came forward, my record would be there, my report would be there. and if the facts are better or if there was more evidence, you could go forward with it. that has led me to get very involved way before this past year in the issues of record retention in the military on sexual assault reports. when i first got involved in this, we learned the shocking fact that many branches of the military were destroying the records, sometimes in one year, sometimes in five years. and that's why senator olympia snowe and i got together and proposed changes to that system. we actually changed it so the records would be kept for decades. but the problem is that still in the law, despite two changes we
have made over the years on this exact authorization act, the victim actually has to sign something and say they want the records retained. that would not happen in a civil court. current law only requires retention of restricted reports and that's when a service member chooses not to take legal action at the request of the affected service member. this might seem innocuous but it is not. it's a loophole allowing for the continuing destruction of records, making it harder for servicemen and women who've been sexually assaulted to get v.a. benefits for assault-related ailments or to seek justice in future. i did an event with a former marine who literally her case couldn't be brought because she was a marine, the records at the time were kept for five years. so when the perpetrator got out and raped two kids in californ california, that prosecutor in california was at least able to look at the records. whether he could use them or not is somewhat immaterial. it simply helps to look at the records to know what happened
and if there was a similar modus operandei. a service member who's been through a sexual assault should not be forced to make a far-reaching decision on whether his or her report on a crime would be degained or not. that's what's -- detained or not. that's what's happening right now. this will ensure that all reports are stored in a secure and private manner for at least 50 years. it aalsit also contains a provif my bill that substantiated sexual assaults be noted in personnel records. this will help ensure that commanders are aware of potential repeat offenders. and it contains the language from my military assault prevention act and i thank senator -- senator murkowski for her support of this which expresses the sense of the senate that charges of rape, sexual assault or attempts to commit these offenses should be disposed of by court-martial rather than by nonjudicial punishment or administrative
action. we want offenders to be convicted and punished, not just given a slap on the wrist by commanders or allowed to shrink away without a -- slink away without a discharge. this year's n.d.a. also includes legislation that i introduced with senator mccaskill, who's with us here today, to add sexual assault and charges to the list of protected communications that can be investigated by the d.o.d. inspector general. this is expanded whistle-blower protection that will help ensure that service members are able to report sexual assault crimes without facing retaliation. these are just a few of the provisions addressing sexual assault in this bill. we also know that this bill does so much -- i see senator murray is here -- focused on victims' rights and treating our victims with the respect that they deserve. our country is fortunate that we have so many selfless servicemen and women who volunteer to serve their country. when they raise their hands to serve, we take on a responsibility to provide them
the means to accomplish their mission and to ensure that they don't have to worry about what's going on behind the frontline. sexual assault in the military betrays that responsibility. if in the course of their service our servicemen and women experience an assault that our military failed to prevent, then we owe them the basic decency of justice. i look forward to working on and passing this bill with my colleagues so that we can protect our service members once and for all. thank you, mr. president. i yield the floor. ms. mikulski: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from maryland. ms. mikulski: you're seeing something pretty historic with over half of the women of the senate speaking on this issue. i know the press isn't covering it but i hope on c-span they are. this is a bipartisan effort with
30 reforms that we've agreed to and it is very, very impressive that we're all here speaking up with one voice, the occasional difference in goals and i hope america is watching. because this hasn't ever happened before. i now turn to the gentlelady from wisconsin for her remarks and then the gentlelady from missouri and then the gentlelady from washington state. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from wisconsin. ms. baldwin: mr. president, i rise this morning to speak about this year's national defense authorization legislation and the important reforms that are a part of the underlying bill to improve our military's response to sexual assault within its ranks. the men and women in our armed services serve with courage in defense of our freedoms every single day.
in my eyes, their service needs to be respected by taking decisive action to address the ongoing crisis. in fact, you can call it an epidemic of sexual assault in the military. we know that the system is broken and it is long past time that we fix it. i want to share just one story from a remarkable and brave woman named rachel who lives in lacrosse, wisconsin. rachel joined the army in 2004. she was sexually assaulted that same year while she was stationed at fort meade in maryland for advanced individual training. after reporting her assault to her commanding officer, rachel was interrogated for hours over numerous days and ultimately forced to drop the charge. she was written up for
fraternization and her assailant was not charged with any crime. as you can imagine, rachel was deeply affected by the trauma of this crime and continues to face struggles with post-traumatic stress disorder. but rachel is a survivor and a true inspiration. she has turned her pain and courage into a platform for advocacy and service to her community. working through her organization, "survivors empowered through art" to raise awareness about military sexual assault, through the power of art and storytelling, rachel's story is a reminder that she is not alone and that we must do everything that we can to make sure that all victims of sexual assault have the support that they deserve.
that's why i'm heartened by the many important reforms included in the 2014 national defense authorization act and very grateful to the bipartisan coalition, in particular of women senators, who have worked so diligently to make this change happen. in particular, senators gillibrand and mccaskill have led the fight to make these improvements. their efforts will make a real difference in the lives of countless americans by preventing sexual assault in the military and greatly improving our support to victims. however, i believe that more musmust be done to help victimsf sexual assault, and that is why i'm a proud cosponsor of senator gillibrand's amendment which would improve on these important reforms by removing the prosecution of major crimes from the military chain of command. instead, military prosecutors
would determine whether to move a case forward which would eliminate inherent bias and conflicts of interest which currently deter victims from reporting sexual assault crimes in the first place. i'm also filing an amendment to ensure that we're including rotc programs in our conversations about military sexual assault. just like we must ensure that our new officers from service academies meet our highest standards, we must do the same of those commissioned in rotc programs across america. i think the important improvements in this year's defense authorition show the great promise of what can be achieved if we work together in a bipartisan way to get things done for the american people. i have to tell you, it's a tremendous privilege to be a
public servant. it's a special privilege to be the first woman elected from my state to the u.s. senate. and one of the best parts for me is that i get to be a woman in the senate at a time when there's so many incredible other women in the senate to work wi with, to learn from, to look up to. i want to expressly thank my senate colleagues who serve on the armed services committee, senators mccaskill and hagan, shaheen and gillibrand, hirono, ayotte and fischer. i want to thank them for their work in guiding this process through their committee in such an effective and bipartisan way. my thanks, of course, go as well to senator levin and inhofe for their stewardship of these important provisions. i'd like to thank senators mikulski and collins for organizing today's floor speeches.
the cumulative total of these changes represent true progress in eliminating the tragedy and scourge of sexual assault in our military, and i once again thank my colleagues for their bipartisan work and yield back. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from missouri. mrs. mccaskill: i, too, want to thank my colleagues, senator mikulski and senator collins, for making an effort today to highlight the work that has been done on this important issue. i would be less than candid if i didn't say it has been frustrating to have one policy difference dominate the discussion of this issue over the previous few weeks without anyone even realizing the historic reforms that are
contained in this bill, and so i welcome the opportunity to come with my colleagues, who may disagree on one policy issue but don't disagree on the goal and are taking a moment to recognize the work that has been put into this bill by not just the women of the armed services committee but also the men of the armed services committee. after hearings and some of us have spent literally hundreds of hours pouring over trial transcripts, spending time visiting with prosecutors, i think we have fashioned historic and amazing changes that are going to forever change the successful prosecution of rapists in our military and go further to protect victims.
i come to this issue with a great deal of experience. i think it is not hyperbole or overstating it that i have stood in the courtroom prosecuting sexual predators more than any member of the united states senate. hundreds and hundreds of cases i have handled, dozens and dozens and dozens of jury trials. no one in this chamber has intercepted with victims of sexual assault more than i have, and i don't think anyone has more of an understanding of the particularly complicated problems that these cases present, especially when there is a consent defense. and keep in mind that the vast majority of these cases in the military are consent defenses.
you have two defenses in a sexual assault case. one is it wasn't me, and the other is it was consensual activity. so it doesn't take someone much to understand the principle that in this instance, most of these cases are going to be consent offenses. why do i emphasize that? i emphasize that because it is relevant, it is particularly relevant to the reforms that we embrace in the underlying bill. the time period in which a victim decides that she is going to come forward out of the shadows and hold her perpetrator accountable is invariably very close in time to the time of report. it is how she is treated at that juncture, more so than anything else. more so than whether she has been victimized in the military or whether she has been victimized on the streets of
your hometown. she is coming forward with the most personally painful moment of her life. now, keep in mind that if you're coming forward with the most personally painful moment of your life, how complicated that gets if you know the defense is going to be that you wanted it, that it was consensual. and then it is even more difficult. that is why the vast majority of these crimes in our country are never reported, ever. it doesn't matter whether we're talking military or civilian. so how can we at that critical moment make sure that victim gets the help and support she or he needs to do the unthinkable, and that is to lay herself or himself bare to the public about what has happened. well, the way you do that is through the reforms that my
colleague, senator murray stressed, and that we have incorporated in this bill, and that is that every single victim gets their own lawyer. i don't think many members understand how extraordinary that is. that reform alone will make our military the most victim-friendly criminal justice system in the world. in no other criminal justice system anywhere, civilian, military, united states, our allies does a victim get that kind of support, and that's what's underlined in these reforms. we already know it works because it's been a pilot program in the air force, and unlike those who say reporting will never go up unless we make another policy change, reporting is spiking in our military. up 50% just this year. and that is because the victims
are getting the word not only do you not only have to report the chain of command, you are going to get the resources, support and help and knowledge you need to navigate the choppiest waters, emotionally and personally, that you will ever encounter. so not only have we done that in the underlying bill, we also have done other things, like stripping commanders of their ability to abuse this system, by changing the outcome of a trial. very important. making the crime of retaliation a reality in the military. it should be actionable in a criminal court within the military if you retaliate against a victim who reports. and now not only will the victim know that retaliation have a crime, not only will the unit
know retaliation is a crime, the victim has her own lawyer who can help press those charges if that occurs. i mean, think of the practical consequences of this reform. you go back to your unit, you're retaliated in it, you call your lawyer. you're not going to believe what they did to me today. that lawyer immediately helps you bring charges against those who might retaliate. it requires automatic discharge from the military for rape or assault convictions. there will be other opportunities to debate the policy difference that we have about how these cases are handled in the military, but i cannot say how grateful i am to the dean and to senator collins for doing this today. it is -- it is very important
that we not lose sight, that this isn't about a bumper sticker, it isn't about one side versus the other. this is about doing the very best job we can on the policy so that we can protect victims, prosecute offenders and get them the hell out of our military. that's what this is about, and with every fiber of my being, i believe we are going to accomplish that with the reforms that we're embracing. i will come back to the floor to talk more about the amendment i'll be offering on the floor to further -- go even further with some of these reforms that we think are necessary, and i am so grateful that my colleagues have taken a moment to recognize the obvious, that what we've done is historic, that what we've done we do in agreement, and what we've done is going to make a difference.
thank you, mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from maryland. ms. mikulski: mr. president, how much time do we have under this morning business agreement? the presiding officer: all time in morning business has currently expired. ms. mikulski: we have two more speakers, and senators -- the gentlelady from massachusetts and washington state. i ask unanimous consent morning business be extended for these two for approximately ten minutes. the presiding officer: is there objection? seeing no objection, the request is granted. ms. mikulski: i now yield to the gentlelady from washington state and then massachusetts. the presiding officer: the gentlelady from washington. mrs. murray: first i want to thank the senator from maryland and the senator from maine for helping to bring so many of us to the floor today to talk about an issue that really cuts across bipartisan -- cuts across partisan lines and has plagued our nation's military and has gone unaddressed for far too long. military sexual assault is an
epidemic, and it is right -- it has rightly been identified as such by the pentagon. it is absolutely unconscionable that a fellow service member, the person you rely on to have your back and to be there for you would commit such a terrible crime. it is simply appalling that they could commit such a personal violation of their brother or sister in uniform, but what's worse and what has made change an absolute necessity is the prevalence of these crimes. recent estimates tell us that 26,000 service members are sexually assaulted each year, and just over 3,000 of those assaults are reported. according to the department of veterans affairs, about one in five female veterans treated by the v.a. has suffered from military sexual trauma, one in five. that is certainly not the act of a comrade. it is not in keeping with the ethos of any of the services,
and it can no longer be tolerated. and that is why the women of the senate have been united in calling for action. mr. president, there has been made much of the fact that there are now 20 women in the senate, an historic number that i think we all agree can still grow, but it's important to remember that the number alone should not be what is the story. instead, it's what we do with our newfound strength to address the issues that are impacting women across the country. with this bill, the first defense authorization of this congress, we are doing exactly that. we are taking historic action to help service members access the resources they need to seek justice without fear. and, mr. president, one way this bill will do just that, how it will protect our service members and assist victims and punish criminals is through the inclusion of a bill i introduced across party lines with senator
ayotte. our bill, which is included in the base bill, creates a new category of legal advocates called special victims counsels. they would be responsible for advocating on behalf of the interests of the victim. these special victims councils would advise -- counsels would advise the victim on the range of issues they face. for instance, when a private first class is intimidated into not reporting a sexual assault, by threatening her with unrelated legal charges like underaged drinking, this new advocate would be there to protect her and tell her the truth. since january now, the air force has provided these advocates to over 500 victims through an innovative new pilot program. ten months later, the results are speaking for themselves. 92% of victims are extremely satisfied with the advice and support their s.b.c. lent them through the military judicial
process. 98% would recommend other victims request these advocates. and 93% felt that these advocates effectively fought on their behalf. in describing their experience with an advocate, one victim shared that -- quote -- "going through this was the hardest thing i ever had to do in my life. having a special victim counsel helped tremendously. no words could describe how much i appreciate having one of these advocates." so, mr. president, through our bipartisan efforts, the defense authorization bill will also enhance the responsibility and authority of d.o.d.'s sexual assault prevention and response office known as the sapro. this improvement would help to provide better oversight of efforts to combat military sexual assault across the armed forces. sapro would also be required to regularly track and report on a range of m.s.a. statistics, including assault rates and the
number of cases brought to trial and compliance within each of the individual services. now, some of this data collection is already being done, so this requirement is not going to be too burdensome, but it will give the office authority to track and report to us on the extent of the problem. mr. president, i believe the great strength of our military is in the character and dedication of our men and women who wear that uniform. it is the courage of these americans to volunteer to serve that are the pentagon's greatest asset. i know it's said a lot, but take a moment to really think about that. our service members volunteer to face danger, to put their lives on the line, to protect our country and all its people. when we think of those dangers, we think of i.e.d.'s, we think of battles with insurgents. we shouldn't have to focus on the threats they encounter from their own fellow service
members, and we should never allow for a culture in which the fear of reporting a crime allows a problem like this to fester year after year. these are dangers that can never be accepted, and none of our courageous service members should ever have to face them. earlier this year i asked ray maybus about the sexualt assault epidemic and i was glad he told me concern is not a strong enough word to describe how he feels about this problem. he says he is angry about it and i know many of us here are as well particularly our female colleagues who dedicated so much time to this issue share their feeling and want to put an end to this epidemic. so i am hopeful we can work quickly to do right by our nation's heroes because when our best and brightest put on a uniform and join the united states armed forces they do so with the understanding they will
sacrifice much in the name of defending our country and its people. but that sacrifice should never have to come in the form of abuse from their fellow service members. i'm proud that the women in this senate have taken this issue head on, and what should never be lost in the effort to enact the many changes that have been proposed is that for too long this was an issue that was simply swept under the rug. that is no longer the case. thanks to bipartisan cooperation, the work of thousands of dedicated advocates and the voices of countless victims who have bravely spoken out, we are poised to make a difference on an issue that women everywhere have brought out of the shadows. and i am proud of the women that have worked so hard on this issue. thank you, mr. president. i yield the floor. ms. warren: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from massachusetts.
ms. warren: thank you. i rise to express support to wipe out sexualt assault in our military. i want to begin by thanking the senator from maryland and the senator from maine for your skhoerd leadership in bringing -- extraordinary leadership in bringing us to speak out on this issue. the military says it has a zero tolerance policy towards sexual violence. government agencies put out 20 reports examining the problem and suggesting solutions. yet shamefully incidents of sexualt assault involving our military personnel continue at staggering rates. data from the department of defense indicate that thousands of men and women serving in the military are subject to these horrific experiences every year. more than 20% of women serving in the military have reported unwanted sexual contact at some point during the course of their military service. and perhaps most shameful, about half of all female victims in a 2012 d.o.d. survey indicated
they did not report these crimes because they believed that such reports would simply be ignored. this is an outrageous situation. we have called on the military over and over to solve this problem, and they have failed. simply calling once again on the military to reform will be an exercise in futility. worse, it will be a breach of trust with the men and women who are future victims of sexual predators lurking in the military. these are important steps forward that we take today. the number of extremely strong provisions to address sexualt assault included in this year's national defense authorization act will move us in the right direction. these provisions are designed to crack down on sexualt assaults, to better protect and advocate for victims and to change the climate within our military to one that ends this despicable
conduct. the bill includes provisions to promote the prosecution of these cases by eliminating the statute of limitations on certain sexual offense cases and by limiting the ability of commanding officers to modify court-martial findings in sexual offense cases. the bill requires a provision of a special victims counsel to provide legal support for service members who are victims of sexual violence at the hands of other members of the military and take steps. there are other important steps forward in this bill. and as the senate debates the defense bill, we will consider additional provisions to prosecute and eliminate sexualt assault. i support those efforts as well. the issue of sexual violence within our armed forces is very personal to me. all three of my brothers served in the military. my oldest brother was career military and flew 288 combat
missions in vietnam. i know the unbelievable sacrifices that our military men and women make for this country and the sacrifices their families make to support them. and yet, in spite of those sacrifices, we as a nation have consistently refused to take sufficient steps to ensure that our military men and women are protected from sexual violence on the job. tolerance for sexualt assaults demeans the sacrifices that millions of grave men and women have stepped forward to make on our behalf. we owe it to our service members and to their families to change the culture in our military that remains far too tolerant of this abuse. we owe it to our service members and to their families to do everything in our power to stamp out these incidents. no matter the outcome of this week's amendments votes, this
year's defense authorization act will make significant strides toward finally making the military's zero-tolerance policy a reality. i'm proud to support these efforts and i promise that so long as these crimes continue to occur, so long as victims are fearful to come forward, so long as justice is denied to victims, i promise that we will be back right here next year and the year after that and the year after that doing everything we can to end sexualt assault in the military. the brave men and women serving in our armed forces have no intention of giving up on us, and we have no intention of giving up on them. thank you, mr. president. i yield my time. ms. mikulski: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from maryland. ms. mikulski: mr. president, with the outgoing statement by
the gentlelady of massachusetts, we are concluding the time that the women of the senate have taken on a bipartisan basis to speak out against sexual assault in the military and to speak for the 30 reforms that we all have agreed upon on a bipartisan basis that will enable prosecutorial reform, help to the victims, guarantee the fairness for the process and make sure that if you come forward, that you will not be retaliated against, you will not be ignored. but if you're also accused, you will get a fair process. i'm really proud of the way the seven women on the armed services committee led this, and then joined by the rest of us -- social workers, advocates, former attorneys general are here. and we couldn't have done it, though, without the very good men on the committee, particularly the chairmanship of senator levin and the help of
senator inhofe. and i note the gentleman from rhode island is here, senator reed. we want to thank him for his strong advocacy for women, the advancement of women in the military and also these important reforms. i also want to say something as the dean of the women. this is pretty historic what we did this morning. you know, you had ten women from the united states senate across the aisle speaking out on 30 goals -- 30 reforms that were agreed to in the underlying bill. this is what the american people wanted, us working together with the chairman of the committee listening to victims, listening to experts, listening to the military. you know what's disappointing to me? there was one person in the press gallery. now if we had been in conflict -- and there will be a difference later on where there are some differences in some
policy. that's okay with me. but we don't make press anymore. we don't make press when we've actually worked together and worked with such incredible diligence and expertise among ourselves 0 to solve these really egregious and historically intransigent problems. i say to the press we know you like conflict, we know you like controversy. you particularly want to see it among the women. we have a precedent where we have disagreed before on goals. when i led the fight with lilly ledbetter, senator kay bailey hutchison took me on with nine amendments. we had a good debate and we had a good bill at the end of it. senator murkowski, the gentlelady from alaska, has also disagreed with me on what should be the best approach on preventive health. debate, diligence without
personal conflict, we then came up with some good ideas. and i say here today when i listen to our colleagues on the other side of the aisle, again with great backgrounds, and here today this is pretty historic. so if you're watching on c-span, you saw history being made. ten of us -- and there will be more later on today -- where we actually agreed. we are trying to govern the way we were elected to govern, and i'm proud of what we're going to do with the reforms that are there. i'm proud of the way we've gone about it. and if we disagree on some matters here or there, that's what debate, rigor and civility will be all about. so, mr. president, i'm going to conclude this debate for now. other women will be coming throughout the day. and we know we will be debating some other important policy goals. mr. president, i yield the floor. the presiding officer: morning
business is closed. under the previous order the senate will resume consideration of s. 1197 which the clerk will report. the clerk: calendar number 91, s. 1197, a bill to authorize appropriations for fiscal year 2014 for military activities with the department of defense and so forth and for other purposes. the presiding officer: under the previous order, the time until 12:30 p.m. will be for debate only. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from rhode island. mr. reed: mr. president, i note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
call in progress be vitiated. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. inhofe: mr. president, i -- i think everyone is aware that we have a lot of differences on both sides of the aisle and, quite frankly, i just had a meeting with some of the house people and so there -- there are some problems right now. i'm anxious for chairman levin to come back after the -- perhaps after our conferences and i will do the same thing and hopefully we'll be able to do it. i understand that -- that there's already a statement been made about the ayotte; -- is that correct? on guantanamo. and she's ready to debate and i think senator levin has a side-by-side amendment that he is ready to debate, too. so that, in my opinion, about as far as we've come on progress and i'd withhold any other comments i'd make until after the chairman has made his comments, which will probably be after -- after lunch.
oh, by the way, i would continue -- i would ask our members to continue to file all the amendments that they can have just in anticipation that we're, as we have in the past, ultimately come to that conclusion that we're going to have amendments. hopefully. a senator: mr. president? mr. reed: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from rhode island. mr. reed: mr. president, i have a unanimous consent that's been approved by the majority and minority leaders and i'd like to present it at this time. mr. president, i have six unanimous consent requests for committees to meet during today's session of the senate. they have the approval of the majority and minority leaders. i ask unanimous consent that these requests be agreed to and that these requests be printed in the record. the presiding officer: is there objection? hearing none, so ordered. mr. reed: thank you, mr. president. mr. inhofe: mr. president, i ask unanimous consent that -- the presiding officer: the senator from oklahoma. mr. inhofe: -- that the -- to extend floor privileges to major richard anderson, our army fellow, for the remainder of this calendar year. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. inhofe inhofe: i yield the .
mr. thawn: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from south dakota. mr. thune: i come to the floor to discuss again how obamacare is negatively impacting american families. nbc news is reporting that 5 million americans have received cancellation notices from health insurers. in my own state of south dakota, the sioux falls leader is reporting that nearly 3,000 people have lost the plan that they had.
yet this administration is merely pursuing political band-aids for the program created by the president's health care law. the president's trying to fix this problem of canceled plans but his solution is politically motivated band-aid in response to pressure from members of his own party who are nervous about the next election. the unfortunate reality of his band-aid is that it won't work. instead of taking responsibility for his failed policies and broken promises, he's changing his mind about how he wants his law to work at the 11th hour. he's kicking the can to state insurance regulators to determine whether, in 48 days, which is from the date of his announcement on thursday, they can reverse a train wreck that has been barreling down the tracks for nearly four years. the president's health care law told the entire country that compliance with the president's law must occur on january 1 of 2014. and in response, industry and state regulators complied. now, after relentlessly pushing
a law that is fundamentally flawed, the president is changing his mind. he's expecting state insurance commissioners to bail him out to allow americans to keep the plans that they were promised that they could keep. since passage of his health care law, the president continued to tout his law and continued to make promises to the american people that he knowingly could not keep. while i agree that americans should be able to keep the plans that they have and like, this 11th-hour attempt at a fix is an indication that the underpings of this law -- underpinnings of this law are irreversibly flawed. the administration is now trying to live up to a promise it made despite the fact that they knew the promise wasn't true. in fact, the president repeated and reiterated that promise as recently as september 26 despite the fact that the administration knew it wasn't true. in 2010, the administration knew that up to 93 million americans in the private market were in danger of losing their current
health care plan. but the deeper problem with the president's fix is it is merely a band-aid. by this time next year, americans will be in this exact same situation all over again. the president is not focused on finding a good permanent solution but a good political solution. putting this band-aid on the problem now may get him and his party past next year's elections. he seems more interested with preserving that power than creating real solutions to the underlying issues. in fact, the president is so concerned about the politics of his actions that he's considering yet again a way to bail out his union friends. as part of the health care law, unions agreed to pay a tax to help pay for the cost of expanding coverage. this tax, known as the reinsurance tax, is scheduled to be paid by self-insured plans, including plans administered by unions and many of the largest businesses in america. but the unions are unhappy that they have to pay money into a fund to be used to help fund a
benefit for someone other than their dues paying members. they took their complaints to the administration and buried in a regulation issued last month, the administration announced that they intend to exempt unions from paying this tax. yesterday the "wall street journal" editorial page articulated exactly why the unions should not be exempt from this tax. the editorial called obama's union favor argues -- and i quote -- "that the unions ought to consider this tax a civic obligation in solidarity with the uninsured working folk that they claim to support." it further states -- and i quote again -- "there's no conceivable rationale other than politics for releasing union-only plans from a tax." and as the editorial pointed out, exempting unions from this tax will only mean increased taxes on nonidentif non-unionizs and self-insurance plans since the tax is structured in a way that it must raise a total of $25 billion and isn't structured
as a straight percentage, like most taxes are. granting this political deal to unions is why i'm introducing the union tax fairness act. this bill would ensure that unions live up to the commitments they made when they put their political weight behind the health care law. it is political deals like this that highlight how this law is failing the average american. this reinsurance fee exemption isn't the only backroom deal the administration is trying to grant unions. earlier this fall the administration tried to find a way to provide obamacare subsidies to ineligible union employees. and i introduced a bill called "the union bailout prevention act," which was aimed at ensuring that the administration cannot make that special deal either. mr. president, it's clear that this president, president obama, is trying to fix problems in his health care law by making decisions and exemptions based on faifs to hi favors to his pol allies. democrats are on the run from
the law that they once championed. they recognize this law is sagging under its own weight. and last week there were 39 house democrats who voted against the obama administration by supporting the upton bill that provides a better solution to allowing americans to keep plans they like than what the president has proposed. even former president bill clinton said that president obama should keep his word when it comes to allowing americans to keep the plans that they have and like. and in this chamber, several senate democrats are running for the exist and looking for a legislative escape hatch of their own. unfortunately, the solutions proposed by this administration to fix problems in the health care law are only temporary solutions. their solutions to problems are either temporary delays, which they did with the employer mandate and the one-year extension of 2013 plans, or political favors to their friends and allies. instead, this administration should agree to delay this entire law for all americans.
americans are deeply skeptical of the affordable care act. according to last week's gallup poll, 55% of americans now disapprove of the health care law and there's a more recent poll this morning, abc news/"washington post" that has that number at 57% disapproving. madam president, the time to act is now to ensure americans ca can -- can -- keep the plans that they have and like. this fix won't prevent americans from losing their coverage, facing sticker shock and premium increases or losing their doct doctor. this law is fundamentally broken and we need to start over and enact real reforms that decrease costs and improve access to care. and, madam president, like so many of us in this chamber, i hear on a daily basis from my constituents in south dakota about the impact, the very real impact, that this is having on middle-income americans. this is an e-mail that i received last week. "john, my wife just received our
health care insurance policy renewals for 2014 and we are in shock. our monthly premiums increased from $400 per month to $1,000 or over $7,000 more per year. my wife, age 59, and me, age 60, now receive maternity benefits and some other very limited coverage. we lost our prescription drug co-pay and doctor visits co-pay. these expenses will now be included in our $6,300 deductible. i will have no option for any subsidy to offset these increases in premiums." he goes on to say, "please, please push for reversal of this horrible health care plan. my wife and i are physically ill after receiving this letter from our insurance carrier. again, the government is destroying our lives and we need you to stop this madness." madam president, that's just one example again of many that i
have heard from my state of south dakota and many that my colleagues here in the senate are hearing from all across this country. it is clear that this plan, this program, this health insurance law is not ready for primetime. it is time for us to take a time-out and to go back to the drawing board and to construct a plan, an insurance program for this country, legislation that will help reduce the cost for working-class americans, give them access to better quality of care, and allow them to keep the doctor that they choose, which is very much in jeopardy as well as a result of this takeover literally of one-sixth of our economy. madam president, there's a better way, as i think countless now millions of americans are finding out through canceled coverages, sticker shock by skyrocketing premiums, and the new nooj they may no knowledge t be able to keep not only their
insurance plan but also the doctor they like. this is a reality, a grim reality, for way too many americans and it's time for to us step forward and to do something about it. what the president has proposed is a band-aid, is a political solution. it's not a permanent solution. it is temporary. we need long-term fixes put in place that will address the health care concerns that people in this country have. but, madam president, the way to do that isn't to have the federal government literally assume control of one-sixth of the american economy and all the decision making that that takes out of the hands of ordinary, middle-class families, people across this country who are working hard to take care of their families. madam president, i yield the floor. mr. sessions sessions: madam pr? the presiding officer: the senator from alabama. mr. sessions: madam president,
we need to be moving forward with the defense bill. it's very important. i'm a member of the armed services committee and we've had a good bipartisan vote out of committee to bring the bill to the floor. chairman levin has been fair to us in committee so we had a good committee process. but there are some disagreements over a number of issues that the full senate needs to discuss and vote on. they just should be able to do that. and we're drifting into a process that's absolutely contrary to the history of the senate, the real concept of the united states senate where we bring matters up and vote on them. and just because it cleared our committee doesn't mean that the full senate doesn't get to vote on some of these differing opinions. i voted in the committee on a number of amendments that didn't
pass, we had amendments up in committee that we decided not to vote on, and the phrase was, well, we will carry that to the floor. in other words, it will be brought up and the whole senate will vote on it, not just the committee. maybe in the interim something can be worked out but if not, it would go to the full senate and the full senate would work its will. it would have its debate and vote. and we're going days now with nothing happening, no amendments being voted on. they could have already been voted on. and so senator reid has filled the tree and that means he has complete control over the process. he has the ability to say we will not have a single amendment and, in fact, except for i think two, all he's agreed to
in his process is to maybe have two amendments up. that's unacceptable. senator reid ought to know that. you can't move the defense bill of the united states of america spending $500 billion and not have amendments, and senators actually offer suggestions on how to spend that money better and do better for america. i mean, what are we here for? so i am really worried about this. i'm afraid that this whole thing could collapse over the failure of amendments to be offered. i just looked here at a chart. basically when republicans were in charge, we had 27 amendments, 25 amendments, 13 amendments, actually voted on. the average number were 11.5
amendments. voted on. we already have well over a hundred amendments filed, over half of them, two-thirds of them, will eventually be withdrawn or they'll get -- the managers of the bill will agree to some form of that suggestion for a different language and we'd move on. but we should already have been started on amendments, and we should already -- we should recognize that a good defense bill is going to require an open process where we can actually discuss how to fix it and make it better. in addition, we are facing under the budget control act and the sequester some real financial challenges for the department of defense that are historic. and it is significant, and we need to be able to talk about that and work on that and try to
figure out a way to strengthen the ability of the defense department to function in a rational way and not do unnecessary damage to them while they work to contain spending. that is a critical thing. so i would say to senator reid, who has got a tough job, there's no doubt about that, senator reid, you should not attempt this dramatic reduction in the ability of the senate to actually have amendments to a bill as large and as important as a defense bill. you are overreaching, senator reid. we cannot agree to that. the loyal opposition, the republican opposition here -- i say the bill that came out of committee was bipartisan. overwhelmingly bipartisan. a big vote in the committee.
but there are things that need to be voted on here. and we're not going to agree to a handful of amendments. and if you try to move forward with this bill without allowing at least a legitimate amendment process, you're not going to go forward because we're not going to agree to go forward when you fill the tree and block amendments and have the power to deny amendments of any significant degree on the floor of senate. i'm worried about that. i hope that my friend, senator levin and senator reid here and others, can talk with the majority leader and reason with him and let's get on with the business of proceeding with these amendments and some actual debate about the future of america's defense posture. because we do have challenges in the years to come, a lot different than we've had and we need to reconfigure defense and we need to ask ourselves honestly and in a bipartisan way
what will we need to do in 15 years, what will we need to be doing in 2025? i had the honor to be at the reagan library this weekend for a national security conference dealing with what our defense structure should be in 2025. senator reid was given -- senator levin, along with former secretary of defense gates was given the first award they give for patriotic service. our armed services chairman let me note, was honored, our democratic chairman, was honored at the ronald reagan library for his commitment to national defense. but i'm just saying, ladies and gentlemen, in a bipartisan way we need to be thinking about what our future defense policy should be. we need to be thinking about how to move this bill, but it will
not move and i will not support going to a bill that does not allow this senate to have a reasonable opportunity to have amendments. i would thank the chair and would yield the floor. a senator: that want? the presiding officer: the senator from louisiana. ms. landrieu: madam president, i wanted to come to the floor today to moderate a colloquy between my colleagues for the next 20 minutes or so regarding a very important amendment that's been filed to the defense authorization bill that we're considering. the colloquy will be between myself, senator wicker, senator warren, senator cochran, senator hoeven, senator merkley, aid like to ask unanimous consent that we have the next 20 minutes to conduct this colloquy. the presiding officer: without objection. ms. landrieu: thank you. i really appreciate the courtesies of the manager of the bill on the floor, senator
reed, and i really appreciate his courtesies because those of us that came to the floor today to speak about this issue are extreme extremely concerned about this problem that's presented itself based on a bill that was passed three years ago, two years ago, called biggert waters with all the best intentions a bill was passed two years to go oog to try to fix and reform and reauthorize the nation's flood insurance program, which is a very important program that allows millions of people that live not just along the coast but along our rivers and bayous and streams from coast to coast, inland and coastal communities, to live safely and to live affordably and to have flood insurance they can count on. that was the intention of the bill but, madam president, something went awry through the passage of the bill and the
consequences are devastating. now as we look back two years and we see how fema and some of the federal agencies are implementing the law that we passed, we have some very serious concerns not only about how they're implementing it but about the law itself. so a group of us have come together to change that law so that we can provide opportunities for our families, for our individuals and our businesses to be able to buy and keep the kind of flood insurance they need to stay in business and to keep their communities intact. the last couple of weeks all we've heard about is health care insurance, and that is important, and we've got some things to fix and move forward, providing the country with a health care system that they can depend on. but we also have a real challenge in flood insurance and affordability to our communities. in louisiana alone we have
400,000 flood insurance policies. florida, i see my good friend, senator nelson, on the floor from florida, he has the largest number of policies, followed by texas, the second largest, and, of course, mississippi has quite a few as well, and senator wicker joins me on the floor. i want to start by showing this map so that everyone that is following this debate -- and there are literally millions of people following this debate, not only homeowners, business owners, but bankers, real estate -- realtors, developers, et cetera, because if we don't get this right, these communities where you see these dots where they are the mardi gras colors, purple, 2k3w0e8d, and green, these dots represent communities that are being affected by this program that needs to be changed and reformed. these are flood maps that are being issued. look how many in oregon and washington, california, texas.
what really surprised me because i know the gulf coast well, that's the area, of course, that i represent, louisiana and i know texas and mississippi and florida very well. but the area that surprised me was pennsylvania and illinois and, of course, new york, new jersey, and the east coast because of superstorm sandy. but this is a national issue. it's not a louisiana issue, it's not a gulf coast issue, it's a national issue. and the other thing i want to point out is you'll notice that these flood maps are not just along the coast. some people say to us that are working on this, well, i'm not concerned because i don't represent a coastal state. well, heads up, everyone, even if you don't represent a coastal state, you're having flood maps issued from north dakota, south dakota, interior states, kansas, arkansas, et cetera, because you've got rivers and flood zones.
and if we do not change this bill in a significant way and what we're asking for in the menendez-isakson bill which we are here offering as an amendment to the defense authorization bill, many of these communities will be devastated and that's because in the biggert-waters bill it's mandated a fairly steep and unsustainable and unaffordable to the middle class rate increases that will simply prevent people from being able to stay in their homes. and my friend, senator wicker, who is following me in this colloquy, i'd like to ask him because he wanted to speak specifically about the hardships that some of our people are experiencing as they're getting these notices about the rate increases and i was going to ask senator wicker what he is hearing in mississippi and could you elaborate a minute about the unintended consequences of biggert-waters and the increases that some of our people are seeing in their primary home,
senator, as well as their businesses. mr. wicker: madam president, i thank my colleague from louisiana for asking that question. what i'm hearing from mississippi and what i think we're going to be hearing from all across the united states of america is that this is about to be a disaster for property owners in the united states of america. and so i join my colleagues today and perhaps there will be others ghiedz besides the three of us on the floor, and in saying we need to address the very real problem of increases in flood insurance premiums which will unfairly hurt homeowners and businesses in my home state of mississippi and across the united states of america. and i appreciate my colleague for presenting the map to show that this is indeed a national problem and not just a regional or coastal problem. the severe onset of unfortunately rates, unaffordable rates could have an a devastating impact on the livelihood of homeowners and
communities throughout the nation and on our economy. moreover they could jeopardize the long-term solvency of the flood insurance program which covers some 5.6 million americans. there's no doubt that nfip faces enormous challenges. the damages wrought by storms like katrina, rita, and sandy have left the nfip in the red for nearly a decade amounting to nearly $24 billion at the last count. in the early years of nfip when bad storm years were roughly offset by light storm years taxpayers effectively carried policyholders through tough years because of nfip's authority to borrow from the treasury. however, the catastrophic 2004- 2005 hurricane seasons put the program more than $20 billion in debt and disproved the notion that the finances would balance out over time.
the principles for nfip reform are worthy goals. premiums need to reflect risk more accurately. flood risk must be projected and mapped more accurately and the purchase of flood insurance needs to be encouraged and enforced in order to enlarge the risk pool. we cannot expect the nfip to continue without addressing the huge imbalance between premium ref few and payments for losses. but at the same time congress cannot sit by in the face of these dramatic, unaffordable rate increases facing many americans. the manner in which these reforms are being implemented is alienating the very people the program is intended to help. the new rates penalize people who have followed the rules and places the heaviest burden on those who are just now recovering from recent disaste
disasters. and communities still recovering from recent mississippi river flooding and communities along the gulf coast, where the aftermath of katrina still lingers. a financial burden of this magnitude could force homeowners either to leave their property unprotected or to move away altogether. enssuring the long-term success of the nfip means taking an honest look at how the reforms congress enacted last year are being implemented and whether they are unfairly hurting citizens, and i contend, madam president, that they are. allowing rates to go from a few hundred dollars to tens of thousands of dollars is hardly a reasonable approach to real estate form. reform should not be unnecessarily painful, unfair, or counterproductive to the goal of solvency. premium increases ma make the coverage literally unaffordable
could lead to a net loss in program revenue. nobody benefits from that. nobody benefits, neither the homeowner nor the taxpayer, when n.f.i. premium increases in foreclosure. i'm concerned that nfip may well have overstatemented net revenue increases. the they may have overestimated the burtd of the program going forward. that would be a good reason to delay the increases. if a longer phase-in would result in a net increase in revenue to the program, as i suspect it would. a delay would also allow time to study the effects of premium increases, and it would allow us as policy-makers to look for less harmful approaches to reform. the federal emergency management agency should be able to ensure that its technologies and
methodologies accurately assess risk. and so i thank my colleague from louisiana. i thank my colleague from florida for joining us, and i awrnlg alurge all of my colleagm president, to support action that provides immediate relief to americans facing these steep rate hikes. ms. landrieu: madam president, i thank the senator from mississippi for his comments and engaging in this exchange on the floor this morning. i see the senator from florida here, and i know he's been particularly concerned because florida has, of course, a very robust population, one of our largest states. and i think, senator, you have over 2 million policies in florida. and could you, through the chair, i'd like to ask what you're hearing in florida about this situation. mr. nelson: madam president, i
thank the senator from louisiana for inquiring. and i can tell you that federal flood insurance that's not affordable is not federal flood insurance. and to go from a position that you're paying rates here and all of a sudden you go to a position there, people are completely priced out of the market. and all the ancillary things that go with it, because of that, people can't sell their homes. the and when you put that ripple effect through the -- and when you put that ripple effect through the entire economy, nuclear weapon a state like mine that has more coastline than any state save for alaska, and where we have 40% of all the health -- for some reason, health insurance is on my mind ... all
of the insurance policies for flood, 40% of them are in florida. and so i dealt with this, i would say to the senator from louisiana, because in my former life i was the elected insurance commissioner of florida. now, fortunately, i had no jurisdiction over the federal flood insurance program, but other insurance companies that offered it privately or supplemented the federal flood insurance, we did have jurisdiction to regulate. people cannot build a house if they're going to a bank to get a mortgage, unless they have flood insurance. now that the maps, as the senator has pointed out, have been expanded showing there are a lot more areas that are inundated by water, by flood, at
times of the year, then this becomes for the engine of commerce -- for the engine of commerce, this becomes a critical component, and you just can't be going along charging here and suddenly say, we're going to charge you four times as much. so let's have a little common sense and a little common sense says, we want fema to do an affordable car--an an affordability study. and in the meantime, until we get back that study, we want this put on hold. it doesn't say that it's not going to go up in the future. but availability of insurance is directly proportional to the ability of people to pay for that insurance and to continue the american dream, which
homeownership is. so i would say to the senator from louisiana, remember how long we've been trying to get this going? and to the great credit of the senator from louisiana, wh who s taken the lead on this, because she saw the problem on problem . before people started complaining in my state and other states, they were complaining in the state of louisiana. and senator a listen drew wa lap of but we've only been doing this for eight months. we've got a vehicle on the floor that is a must-pass vehicle. it is the defense authorization bill. we need to get this legislation amended, on to it and get it signed in to law. i thank the senator from louisiana, and i thank the presiding officer.
ms. landrieu: i thank the senator from florida. he is so right about the urgency of this. as you know, madam president, in your own home state, you're hearing from people who really are stuck literally between a rock and a hard place because they can't get their insurance renewed, they can't get -- afford the premium increases, and so if they were thinking about selling their home, their home basically has become literally worthless, losing what equity they have -- temporarily, we hope, because we intend to fix this -- because no one can purchase their home if the flood insurance went from $300 a year to $13,000 or $15,000 a year. so it's really affecting home ownership. that is why i'm proud to say -- and i see the senator from mississippi. i am going to ask him in just a minute -- i'm sorry. mr. nelson: madam president, may i do an administrative thing? i forgot to request unanimous consent that bebe lang be
granted privileges of the floor for purposes of the defense bill. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. nelson: thank you. ms. landrieu: madam president, i see the senator from mississippi on the floor. i want to ask him while i thank the 24 senators who have come together, and 128 house members. in addition, we have the national association of realtors, the national association of homebuilders, and the independent community bankers. i wanted to ask the senator from mississippi, do you think we have a better chance of getting attention for our bill, senator, with the national -- strong support of the realtor, the builders and the bankers? and what are you hearing from them in your home state of mississippi? mr. cochran: madam president, if the distinguished senator would yield, i would be happy to respond. it is a fact that the homeowners flood insurance forwardability
act, which we're discussing, seeks to protect homeowners from increases in the cost of flood insurance premiums until the administration reviews and reports to the congress on the flood mapping technologies, methodologies, and insurance affordability that are being issued under the authority of existing laws. one problem that we're concerned about is that the program was supposed to protect taxpayer investments, communicate perceived flood risk to homeowners, and encourage communities to protect themselves against flood risks. the reform legislation enacted in 2012 made some positive changes in the program. today some of those changes are now working in opposition to the
broader goals of reform, hence the importance of this legislation. these shortcomings existed in the law, and they actually threatened to weaken the flood insurance program. the success of flood insurance is so important to many inland and coastal states, such as mine and louisiana, where the distinguished senator is from. communities there continue to work to overcome damages caused by the greatest natural disaster in our nation's history, the effects of the deepwater horizon spill in 2010. the and now skyrocketing -- and now skyrocketing flood insurance premiums. the under the homeowner flood insurance affordability act, the administration would be required to provide assurances to congress that it is using sound mapping methods to make flood
insurance rate determinations. a study by the national academies of science produced in march of this year has called into question some of the engineering practices the government uses to determine rates. before allowing unar unaffordabe flood insurance rates to devalue private property and harm local communities and economies, we should be absolutely sure the government's engineering practices and procedures are as sound as possible. it will be very difficult to rebuild communities or restore home equity once they are lost. so we had better get it right. our bill does not create new programs to address rising premiums. it simply leaves in place some current practices so that we can make sure that the productive reforms we enacted last year
will actually improve the credibility of the program among communities and homeowners. our bill would not affect positive reforms related to expanding program participation or the phase-out of subsidized flood insurance premiums for vacation homes and homes that have a history of repeated flooding. my principal purpose of coming to the floor is to thank the distinguished senator from louisiana for her leadership, as she continues to be our out-front person in dealing with some of the very challenging facts and decisions that are coming from those who are trying to improve the program at the federal level but also at the state and local level.
that's where the action is. and i'm happy to join her in this plea to the senate today. ms. landrieu: madam president, i thank the distinguished senator from mississippi and really appreciate his hard work, as well as his staff on this issue. it's been a real team effort, and without him, we wouldn't be where we are today. so i thank the senator. i see the senator from massachusetts, who was scheduled next in this colloquy, and she's brought a particularly spectacular view -- different view and a much-needed view from the east coast, and not only in light of the devastation from hurricane sandy but the ongoing challenges to that region. i want to ask unanimous consent -- it's 12:30. we were supposed to end, but i think if each of us take about four minutes in the order of senator warren, senator hoeven, and senator merkley, four
minutes each, then we could recess for lunch, as was required earlier. but through the chair, i wanted to ask the senator -- the presiding officer: is there objection? without objection. ms. landrieu: -- what is she hearing from home, from the people of massachusetts, about this? and how important do you think it is, senator, for us to have the support of the rea realtorsd homebuilders and other national organizations that understand the dire consequences if we're not able to get these fixes in place? ms. warren: i want to thañ thank the senator from louisiana, for her energetic leadership on this issue. she's going to help us find the right way here. i'm here today because of what i'm hearing from families in massachusetts. and i also want to thank the senator from mississippi. this is a reminder, this is something that's hitting us all around the country, this change in the flood maps. i'm here today to support my colleagues' bipartisan efforts
to help homeowners across the country who are getting hit with newly revised maps and increased flood insurance premiums. families purchase flood insurance to prevent the loss of their homes in a natural disaster but now many of these families fear the price of flood insurance could be just as devastating and actually cost them their homes. i understand why congress changed the national flood program to more accurately reflect the true cost and the risks of flood damage, and i agree that over time, we need to move to a more market-based system for setting flood insurance rates. provided we adequately take into account affordability concerns for working families. these maps and rate increases are having as big an impact as a big storm. when fema released these flood madam speaker earlier this year and last, they knew they were
placing hundreds of thousands of homeowners into a flood zone for the very first time. and yet there was inadequate warning to homeowners. many have started receiving letters from their mortgage company and are learning for the first time that they must now purchase flood insurance. these new premiums, we've heard about the costs, $500, $1,000 a month, even more. most hardworking families and seniors don't have that kind of extra money on hand to spend on flood insurance premiums that they never knew they needed. one massachusetts resident wrote wrote to me with this: "i have owned my property for over 33 years. 12 years ago, i built a house according to the codes at the time. recently the flood maps were redrawn putting my home in a new flood zone and out of compliance. the implementation of the biggert-waters act is going to
raise our flood insurance to $10,000 or more every year. i followed the rules and now the rules are changing, leaving me few options to comply. now, the homeowner flood insurance be affordability act i have cosponsored with senator landrieu and so many others will provide relief to this homeowner and others who built to code and were later remapped into a higher risk area. this critical bill will delay rate increases until fema completes affordability studies mandated by biggert-waters flood insurance reform act and until subsequent affordability guidelines are enacted. there's a second problem with fema's actions. reclassifications have taken place in some areas without a careful and complete analysis. but for those who believe they haven't been correctly
classified, it's a tough challenge to get their flood zone status changed. i received another letter from a massachusetts constituent who lives in brockton. she was informed that her only way out of this mess was to pay more than a thousand dollars for an engineer to come and conduct an elevation study of a nearby brook. now, let's be clear about this. she has to spend this money even though the city of brockton and the nearby army corps of engineers have no record of the brook ever flooding. and if her appeal is successful, she still is out a thousand dollars due to fema's mistake. the presiding officer: time has expired. ms. warren: i'm pleased to join my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to call for this commonsense delay which will give fema time to complete get this right and i thank senator landrieu for her leadership in this, senators menendez,
isakson, cochran, and all the cosponsors of this bill, time is running out. we need to get this done. i yield back. ms. landrieu: senator hoeven has joined us. he's been particularly forceful on the issue of basements in a state that doesn't have an ocean anywhere around it, but has some serious flooding challenges, and i would hope the senator would take a minute to explain what he's been telling us and how important this particular piece of this bill is for the basement situations in your state. mr. hoeven: madam president, i'd like to thank the good senator from louisiana, very pleased to join in this colloquy with my cosponsors in this very important legislation. this is about affordability of homeownership. the american dream is about homeownership, always has been, we need to make sure that continues. it is about fortunate but it's also about -- affordability but
it's also about getting it right. if we're going to reset flood insurance rates we need to get it right. this affects people across this great nation, it affects their ability to own and continue to own their own home. we need to make sure as we make this transition -- which we're all working on. we're all working on it. we get it right. and so that's why you see this legislation, this bipartisan legislation and we urge our colleagues to join us in this effort. this is about homeownership, this is about affordability, this is about getting it right and to the point that the good senator from louisiana just made, madam president, as you know in the great state of north dakota we have the red river basin, the cheyenne river basin, the james river basin, the devil's lake basin, and more. so we know flooding and we've seen it from year to year. one of the provisions and there's a number of provisions
in this bill which you've already identified critically important, i'm not going to repeat that, but i really want to focus for just a minute on the basement exemption. legislation to preserve the basement exemption was included in the hoeven-heitkamp flood safe basement act. senate bill 1601. that's been incorporated into this bill and as sponsors we appreciate that very much because this is a collaborative effort to get it right as we make this transition in flood insurance rates and make sure that we ploact affordability -- protect affordable care act on a fair basis as we move to financial viability for the long term for flood insurance rates. but when a homeowner has put the cost into making sure that they have a floodproof basement, if we don't take that into account we are penalizing them and charging them twice. makes no sense. makes no sense at all. that's why we've got to have the
basement exemption continued in this legislation. that's why sponsors on a bipartisan basis, we're not only pursuing this as a as stand alone legislation but inthiewfg it as an amendment to the defense authorization bill or other legislation that can move because we need to address it, we need to address it now. madam president, as you well know, the mayor of a small community in northeast north dakota which has seen lee peteed flooding contacted -- repeated flooding contacted our delegation and said what's going on with fema, they're changing these flood insurance rates and we have examples of homeowners going from less than a thousand dollars a year to more than $5,000 a year, a fivefold increase and you know what? not a new home. the home has been there a long time. and it's never been flooded. never been flooded. and they're going to go from less than a thousand to $5,000
in a home that's been there for a long time and never been flooded? that's not how this is supposed to work. that's not how it's supposed to work. and that's why we need this legislation. so, again, i want to thank the good senator from louisiana, all of our sponsors, and we have a great bipartisan group going already and we urge our colleagues to join us and we urge them to join us without delay. we seek a common objective. we will adjust the flood insurance rates to make sure the program is viable for the long term but we need to get it right and that's what this is all about. i yield the floor. ms. landrieu: thank you. madam president, we've all been extremely helpful, of course, as a team in bringing this issue forward and crafting the bill but literally we would not be here if it were not for the leadership of the subcommittee chairman who has jurisdiction over this issue and if he would not have said yes when we asked
him for a hearing in his committee to just allow us to present the facts in hopes that we could find a way as all of us have said, senator, finding a way to make sure this program self-sustainable to the taxpayer but helpful to the people that need it, edwin within goals both which must be met or there won't be a program because no one will be able to afford to be in it. senator, thank you for getting that so quickly and you're the last one on our colloquy and, again, what are you hearing from home and can you give us as chair of the subcommittee some insight into how you think this will affect real estate markets if we're not able to through the chair, if we're not able to fix this? mr. merkley: i thank my colleague from louisiana for her tireless efforts in this regard and we can tell from the commentaries that have just been put forward, a senator from massachusetts, from mississippi, a senator from north dakota, louisiana, of course,, and now representing oregon. and these are folks representing
blue states and red states and all types of different terrain and they have the common purpose of addressing the dysfunction in the biggert-waters bill that was passed. just to give you a small feeling for this, we have a family in oregon, the hay family from eagle creek, wanted to sell their home, had a nice young couple that wanted to buy it and it was all approved except for the insurance policy and from the couple found out that the insurance policy would not be the $500 that the current family is paying but $5,000 a year, the deal fell apart. because for every thousand dollars that you pay in flood insurance, the value of the home drops by $20,000. so not only is the couple who wanted this home unable to buy it because of the home value has dropped but the family that owns the home that had equity in the home that hoped to take these
funds into retirement, be their nest egg, they have lost that nest egg due to these outrageous additional costs, these dramatic, dramatic increases. and so a point of sale is one particular problem, it has a big impact on the real estate market. but we also have the situation of somebody who has a policy lapse. maybe you think your mortgage company is paying the policy and maybe they think you're paying it and maybe it defaults for a few days when you find out neither one has paid the bill. suddenly you might be going in that situation from $500 to $5,000. or perhaps your mortgage company has never enforced the provision that you're required to get flood insurance and now they checked their records and they're checking their records because they are now being charged a fine, a significant multithousand dollars fine if they do not check their records and you should have flood insurance under the law but you
don't, so they check their records and contact you, now you're facing this unsubsidized rate as a new policy. so we have all of this and then layered on top of it is the fact that across this nation the flood zones are being remapped. so folks who were outside of the hundred years and have been outside and had their home 15 years are suddenly notified they're inside the flood zone and required by their mortgage company to get a policy. and they may say but wait a minute waite, i looked at the map and only the corner of my property is in the flood zone and my house isn't. well, the mortgage company says we're sorry, have you to get this and then prove you're not in the flood zone and it may cost you thousands of dollars to get an elevation survey and be able to demonstrate that you're outside the flood zone. you carry this burden of proof so this is a big challenge. and we should recognize how
uncertain, what an art form it is to establish these hundred-year zones. because a company comes in and does a model and they say, well, a hundred-year flood will look like this and what tib ute taxpayer, what watershed that contributes to the confluence of creeks is going to end up flooding that particular town and based on their model, the flood zone might look like it's in the eastern section of the town or the western section of the town or so on and so forth. and that uncertainty where just inches can change whether or not you're in a hundred-year or outside a hundred-year and some of these areas are very flood. a few inches water rise can cover many additional square miles. this can have a huge impact on our business districts because what business wants to reinvest in a business district when they feel any improvements that they make are going to be in their area where no one else will want to buy their company because they're now in a situation where they have unaffordable flood insurance. so this is why we've come
together, democrats and republicans, states from the north and the south and the west and the east, coming together to say we must change this situation that is creating so much unfairness and economic damage and i'm delighted as the chair of the subcommittee to be fully engaged in partnering in this and i thank again, a special thanks to my colleague from louisiana who is doing such a fine job championing this issue. ms. landrieu: i thank the senator. our time has come to and he fnlt in conclusion, madam chair, i thank the subcommittee chair for her leadership. i also want to particularly thank senator menendez and senator isakson, the two lead sponsors of this bill, who have come together to provide the leadership to move this bill afford, and they will be looking for a vehicle. we filed it on this bill, in any event we have an opportunity for an amendment on the defense
bill. if not, we'll be looking for the next possible opportunity. i want to thank you, madam chair, for your cosponsorship and your leadership for north dakota. i want to just, in conclusion, to put this map up here because this is a map of all the counties that have levees. i was so surprised when i saw this map. now, i'm very familiar with the levees in louisiana. i have helped to build a lot of them. and i'm very familiar with the mississippi river generally because we have so much commerce along the mississippi. so i'm kind of generally familiar with missouri and illinois and arkansas. but this is what really just stood out for me was the levee systems in montana and in arizona and in california -- a lot of these are levees, dikes and dams that are different from the river levees that we see. but look at pittsburgh and look at new york and north dakota here and montana and washington.
i mean, there's not place in this country -- not on the coast, not in the interior -- that doesn't have a threat of flooding, either a levee can break, a dam can break, a river can overflow, there can be flash flooding because of droughts. even in texas where there is a lot of flash flooding, not only on the coast but inland as well -- kansas. so the conclusion is, this is a real challenge for our whole nation. we have a bill led by senator menendez and senator isakson that costs zero, scores zero. we have written this bill in way that it just postpones these draconian rate increases so that we can take a little bit more time to get this right to study i-- tostudy it,. this bill bassed with very good intentions but it was passed prematurely without the data we need to make smart decisions for
our communities. and so this is just giving us time to get it right. there's zero cost, the way this bill is structured, and i really appreciate, again, the courtesies of the managing -- our leader managing this bill on the floor, and i yield back our time. the presiding officer: under the previous order, the senate the previous order, the senate >> the senate taking its usual tuesday recess so that members can attend party caucus lunches. members will reconvene at 2:15 p.m. eastern and will continue working on a spinning outline for 2014 defense programs. amendments are expected on sexual assault in the military, guantánamo bay and pentagon spending levels. live coverage here on c-span2. >> today marks the 150th
anniversary of president lincoln's gettysburg address. look for our coverage from soldiers national cemetery come including the keynote address. next week thanksgiving day at four and 10 p.m. eastern on c-span3's american history tv. >> when president kennedy was shot at 12:30 p.m. palestine, november 22, 1963, within 1 minute several dallas police officers ran up the grassy knoll. why? because many people reporting to it as the source of the least some of the gunfire. the first officer up there, joe marshall smith, had his gun drawn because he suspected to find an armed gunman. instead he encountered a man who was asked who he was and he presented secret service credentials. smith was somewhere with the secret service credentials. they were often condemned for one reason or the other. two other officers reported
essentially the same thing but apparently there was more than one with secret service credentials up on the grassy know. frankly, there was one problem. the secret service and the one commission and anyone else who looked at it has identified the location of every single secret service officer at that time. no one was in dealey plaza. all of the secret service officers are taught to go with their protectee. they went to parking hospital with the president and the vice president, soon to be president johnson. who were these people? with secret service credentials that no one can identify? i don't have an answer but i've explained in the book. i've stuck to the fact. people could make up their own mind. >> larry sabato on a lasting legacy of jfk. sunday night at nine on "after words," part of booktv this weekend on c-span2. this wednesday booktv as life for this year's national book award in new york city. coverage starts at 6 p.m.
eastern online at booktv.org with red carpet interviews with the nonfiction finalist. watch live coverage of the awards ceremony at 7:40 p.m. on c-span2. >> earlier today several women senators gave a series of speeches on provisions dealing with sexual assault in the military that are contained in the 2014 defense programs bill. here are their comments leading up with maryland democrat senator barbara mikulski. >> mr. president, today we, of course, are beginning the debate on the national defense authorization act. throughout the next hour and throughout the rest of the day, you will see the women of the senate take the floor one come in support of her military, but also to express their concern and ideas and how to do with sexual violence in the military. you will see in the next hour our ideas, the fact that we have
excellent ideas in the bill and then we'll have a robust debate on how to even further enhance this process. this is a compelling national problem, when you join the military and you face the enemy, you shouldn't have to fear the enemy within. no woman should be a victim of rape by a fellow soldier or seaman or corman. no man should face the same sexual attacks and call it hazing. there is no place in the united states military of violence against one number of the military by another. now, i'm pretty fed up. i'm fed up with lip service in anti-promises and zero tolerance policies and task force after task force after task force. i'm an old timer in this
institution. i've been here for 25 years, and i've worked on this issue for every year since then. there's been some repugnant thing that has occurred, from when i was a brand-new senator i had to deal with the situation at the naval academy where a female midshipmen was changed to a urinal at the naval academy, and taunted by, for three hours by fellow midshipmen ago she was freed a visiting air force cadet, to be able to do it and get her out of handcuffs after own naval academy. in there was tailhook. then there were other kinds of incidents. statistics after statistics, there are 26,000 reasons why we are on the border today. 26,000 sexual assaults. have occurred in our united states military this past year. been the training of future
leaders, 15 attacks at the naval academy. 15 attacks at west point. and over 50 attacks at the united states air force academy. now is the time to do something, to do something bold, to do something strong and something unequivocal. something that victims can have confidence in, the accused can feel that the process will be fair, and that we restore the confidence in the united states military. stop this, and to deal with their own. now, i'm proud of the leadership taken by the women in the senate and the women on the armed services committee. they are now seven women on the armed services committee. five democrats and two republicans. and if they work on a bipartisan basis with the leadership with this committee. we appreciate the work of the
fine men who supported us in dealing with this deck we didn't want to thank chairman levin for his leadership, ma and we want to acknowledge the role of senator inhofe. and by the way, all the women of the senate wish to express our sincere condolences to senator inhofe on the lost of his beloved son. so this is not just a woman's only fight. this is a fight to make sure that our military continues to be the best in the world and when you serve on it there's been any outside that we will always face, but there's an enemy within that we need to now and. we, the women of the senate, all of us agree on the goals. we want to be able to provide prosecutorial punishment. we want to ensure fairness in the process and we want to make sure we get help to the victims.
the national defense authorization act has more than 30 reforms and to accomplish that. 13 relate to prosecutorial reforms. can our reforms to improve victim services. and to reforms are to improve training for first responders. five also did with various kinds of reporting. i am so pleased that the bill works to prevent retaliation against someone who reports a crime. so if you feel that you've been a victim of sexual assault, you're not retaliated by stepping forward where you are then doubly victimized. those by the attack and then those who want to scrub the facts that you want to bring the attack to the surface and to follow some kind of redress, and to also get healthier also the statute of limitations on court-martial for sexual crimes. it requires a review of
decisions by commanders not to prosecute and requires dishonorable discharge for anyone convicted of a sexual assault. the bill ensures that every victim gets access to legal counsel and support. this is really important. it's important not only to me and the other women, but it's important to the person who was injured. first responders must have training in sexual assault. there are others that could be elaborated on. sexual assault in the military continues to rise. it is a problem, as i said. and i'm worried about the men and women everyday to be sure that they're well trained and well protected. you know, mr. president, unfortunately many of these acts of violence are unreported, unprosecuted, and unpunished. dod's own annual report gives us a picture of why victims don't report in time, report these
crimes. 50% don't think anything will be done. 43% believe they will be believed, and 47% were afraid of retaliation. the reforms in this bill deals with those fears and their concerns. we are ready to reform, revise, and standardize how the military deals with these problems. these reforms will change the way the military thinks and how to act. during the course of this whole process, we've met with victims and heard their stories with experts and advocates. we've met with military themselves. now we are ready to give all concerned in this voice by using the defense bill for a vehicle for serious and significant reform. we have been able to do this because we worked together on both sides of the aisle, working with the leadership of the committee. 30 reforms that people can count on for fairness in the process for the accused, but also help to those who feel that they have
been victimized, that to be sure they are not victimized by the very system that they count on. mr. president, i yield the floor and eagerly look forward to hearing from my senior republican colleague senator collins. >> mr. president? >> the senator from maine. >> thank you, mr. president. first, i want to commend a senior senator from maryland, the dean of the women senators, for organizing this debate today on an issue that concerns each of us, and that is the growing crisis of sexual assault in the military. mr. president, i first raised my concern over the military's inadequate response to the growing crisis of sexual assault nearly 10 years ago. i remember it well. it was a hearing before the
senate armed services committee in 2004, at which i expressed my growing alarm about the number of sexual assault in the military, and the inadequate response by the leaders of the military to provide adequate care for the survivors, and to ensure appropriate punishment for the perpetrators of these reprehensible crimes. ..ge casey, i stated the military needs to be much more responsive to reports of sexual assault, particularly in the field, and to separate these women and in some cases the male victims from their alleged attackers. the department